The Together book club wrapped up on November 9 with a crash course in deliberative dialogue and community forums. DMC Executive Director Rachel Mosness guided the ACE communities through a typical deliberative forum and what they could expect as potential moderators.

Communities shared their concerns with past Town Hall meetings and forums open to the public, namely bringing people together in a neutral space and keeping the conversation on track. Through resources such as issue guides—available from the DMC here and the National Issues Forums here—forums can have a guiding structure that allows all participants to follow along and keep the conversation moving forward. 

For those without an issue guide that pertains to their community’s focal issue, Rachel explained how to properly name and frame an issue with all concerned parties bringing their unique perspectives to the table. As Dr. Mathews mentions in Together, “Naming problems as people experienced them was the first step in citizens regaining a sense of being able to make a difference.”

The Mathews Center would like to thank Alabama Communities of Excellence and their Executive Director Mary Shell for partnering with us for this series, as well as the representatives from the participating communities: Aliceville, Ashville, Eufaula, Fairhope, Luverne, Monroeville, and Ozark. We are also grateful to Dr. David Mathews and the Kettering Foundation for providing drafts of Together: Building Better, Stronger Communities to help guide our discussions.